Humanistic Paganism is a form of Religious or Spiritual Humanism. Religious Humanism includes any religion that takes a human-centered ethical perspective, as contrasted with a deity-centered ethical perspective. A humanistic ethic is one that begins with human beings and defines the good in terms of human experience, not the will of any God or gods.
Religious Humanists tend to be atheistic or non-theistic. But humanism adds to atheism a positive ethical component. Not only must we not look to God or gods to solve our problems, but we must also recognize our human responsibility to solve those problems. Even if the gods did exist, a Religious Humanist would say that we cannot know their will, and so we must base on our actions on what we human beings know — our own experience. For Religious Humanists, human experience and reason provide a more than sufficient basis for ethical action without supernatural revelation. In fact, some Religious Humanists argue that humanistic religion may be more ethical than theistic religion, since the will of an inscrutable god or gods cannot be appealed to in order to justify actions that cause human suffering.
For many Pagans, the term “Humanistic Paganism” is problematic, however, since it seems to exclude the more-than-human world, including animals, plants, and the earth itself. But humanism should not be confused with anthropocentrism. Humanistic Pagans embrace the notion that we humans are part of a much larger community of beings to whom we have ethical obligations. The adjective “humanistic” is intended to contrast with “theistic”; it excludes gods, not other living beings.